2020 Winning Poem – Twenty Years On by Laura Laura Apol

at the end of the two-decade road                                      

is a house  tin roof  stone fence     
windows still wanting for glass

      yes                         the house
is a house and  
      yes                         the storm clouds
are clouds and
      yes                         the cradled child

is a child           miracle the haze
of his hair         miracle the scent

of his skin  two decades ago his mother         
hid in the swamps for weeks

orphan teeth      loosening
budding breasts         shriveled against
ribs                    two decades ago she
carried the future       her great-
grandmother’s voice her twin-
brothers’ smiles        
through bloodied days through

panic nights there is nothing
she says nothing
that can touch me now
her hand        
on the curve of      the baby’s
                                    her baby’s
back and I take it
in               the miracle hair the rutted
road with the mud red drive

the roof in the rainstorm
           such            bright wings

Laura Apol is a professor at Michigan State University. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies and literary journals, and she is recognized through a number of poetry prizes. She is the author of four full-length collections: Falling into Grace; Crossing the Ladder of Sun; Requiem, Rwanda (drawn from her decade-long work using writing to facilitate healing among survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi); and Nothing but the Blood. She is a two-time winner of the Oklahoma Book Award and a finalist for the Independent Publishers Award for poetry. She currently serves as the poet laureate of the Lansing area in mid-Michigan